Rooftop garden at Mesa State a new height for architecture in Grand Junction

Visitors chat in the rooftop garden area on the new education and business building at Mesa State College during a September tour of the facility.

Students, faculty and visitors to the third floor of the new business building at Mesa State College can enjoy a cafe-like rooftop garden the likes of which Grand Junction hasn’t seen before, thanks to landscape architect Rob Breeden.

The project, from its design last December to the final touches in mid-October, has been meant to be an “intensive” rooftop garden created with the intent of people using it, said Breeden, a 13-year landscape architect from Fruita. The 6,000-square-foot south-
facing terrace was “meant to be something totally different” before he was brought on board to design the space as it sits today, Breeden said.

“I presented three design concepts and basically gave them the gold, silver and bronze approach,” he said. “The gold approach was the one they liked the most.”

Breeden said the garden contains a number of innovations that make the terrace unique to Grand Junction. All the plants are either drought-tolerant or cold-hardy plants, he said, planted in custom planters with a unique soil mix that will keep the planters light even when watered to ease pressure on the structure.

The building structure was upgraded, Breeden said, to accommodate the weight of the landscaping and people using the area.

Breeden designed a shade structure that can hold a canopy in the spring and summer months with a frame that mimics a mesa tabletop. The shade frame and the planters and mesh attached to the frame create three outdoor rooms with furniture on the rooftop that can be used year-round because his design redistributes wind flow. Ivy vines will eventually grow up the mesh, Breeden said, to
provide walls for some of the outdoor rooms.

The original plan for the terrace was on a much smaller scale at 1,300 square feet, Breeden said, with little more than plants and rooftop space that would have been accessible.

“I’m very proud that we took a space that could have been unusable and provided something usable,” he said. “There are no public spaces like this in Grand Junction on this magnitude.”


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